Printer Friendly

A Game of Cat and Mouse: Henri De Navarre and the Huguenot Campaigns of 1584-89.

In the eighteenth century, King Frederick II "the Great" of Prussia once commented that "the business of war is too important to be left to generals." His statement applies especially to the period between 1584 and 1589, during the last of the French wars of religion, when the Huguenot struggle for survival under the leadership of Henri de Navarre involved two concurrent, yet interdependent campaigns against the joint strength of the Valois Crown and a Guise-led Catholic League dedicated to their destruction. One was military. Partly because they lacked the resources necessary for offensive action, the Calvinists waged a defensive war designed to blunt the enemy attack, frustrate Catholic movements, exhaust their means and buy valuable time until events allowed the Huguenots to seize the military initiative. They played, in short, a tactical game of"cat and mouse," led by Navarre, as they manoeuvred to evade the claws of their more powerful adversaries and reduce the precariousness of their own position. But this defensive posture was compelled partly also by a second, more vital political campaign of cat and mouse, likewise directed by Navarre, in which the Huguenots were the predators this time, and not the prey. Its specific objective was to separate Henri III from his uneasy alliance with the over-mighty Guise faction, and then to unite the Calvinists and the Crown against that common foe.

Key to Huguenot success in both campaigns, therefore, was Henri de Navarre's ability to manoeuvre across the treacherous political and military landscape. At a moment when the majority of Frenchmen, including the Valois king, were alarmed at the ill-prospect of the Calvinist leader's succession to a traditionally Catholic throne, Navarre needed to mute the religious controversy which had reignited the civil war if he were to win over Henri III. To achieve that end, he waged an effective propaganda campaign on behalf of the Huguenots that appealed to patriotism, religious toleration, fundamental law and the ancient bonds of loyalty which united all Frenchmen to their sovereign. His goal was to project an image of himself and the Calvinists not as rebels against royal authority, but as loyal servants of the monarchy and state against the Guises who (he charged) sought to overthrow both. But to sustain that image, Navarre recognized the necessity of supporting his words with deeds, and specifically that Huguenot military efforts had to be defensive in character, whatever the state of the party's resources. For he sensed that an offensive attack upon Henri III's forces, and thus implicitly upon Henri himself, would drive the wavering king irretrievably into the arms of the Guises, with potentially deadly consequences for both the future of the monarchy and for Huguenot survival in France.

It was here that the Calvinists' military and political campaigns converged. What Navarre evidently understood even before the outset of a new civil war in 1585 was that Huguenot success depended not just upon the purely tactical matters of winning battles, seizing strongpoints, or manoeuvring troops to gain a territorial advantage -- the usual business of generals. Rather, it depended upon his careful formulation of a broader strategy that combined the military and political elements of the conflict, in order to define the appropriate rules of engagement. Although, in the short term, this reduced Huguenot prospects for battlefield victories by confining them to a defensive posture, in the long term it gained them political advantage -- and thus military advantage, too -- when Navarre finally secured the long-hoped-for alliance with Henri III in April 1589, against the League. This is what Frederick "the Great" meant by his famous statement about generalship, and what Carl von Clausewitz later called "limited" as opposed to total war. Yet long before either man gave expression to these concepts, they were understood clearly and practised effectively by Henri de Navarre and the Huguenots.

The events between May 1584, when the Calvinist leader became heir presumptive to the Catholic French throne upon the death of Francois d'Alencon, Henri III's younger brother, and the renewal of civil war in July 1585, are very complex. Even so, a knowledge of the chief details is fundamental to understanding the difficulties of the Huguenot position and the development of Navarre's political campaign. For with this sudden transformation in royal French affairs, the political-religious balance in the kingdom underwent a swift and dramatic shift as the militantly Catholic faction of Henri duc de Guise turned not only against the prospective Calvinist successor, but potentially against the Valois Crown itself. In short, Alencon's death heightened enormously the Guises' profile and their persistent claims since 1562 to be defending the realm from heresy now that they "possessed an unambiguous cause in [their] aim of excluding the Protestant Navarre from succession to the throne."(1)

Almost immediately, fresh battle lines were drawn in anticipation of renewed armed conflict among the three major political factions in France: that of Henri III and the royal party; that of Guise and the Catholic extremists; and that of Navarre, the Huguenots and their politique allies. The Valois king's chief strength lay in his undisputed legitimacy as French monarch. But as David Buisseret observes, over the years "he had frittered away this commanding advantage by his personal eccentricities and his slovenly administration." His failure to produce an heir also meant that Frenchmen "would have to decide which of his potential successors to support."(2) Hence, his position was weakened severely. By contrast, the Guises were strong, though whether they viewed themselves as an alternative royal house at this juncture is unclear. What is certain is that the family enjoyed ancient roots and extensive, including royal, connexions.(3) In addition, Duc Henri was personally popular and able, while he, his brothers and his numerous cousins controlled large parts of northern and eastern France both as royal gouverneurs and prominent feudatories. They were especially powerful in Champagne, Burgundy, Picardy, Normandy and Brittany.

As for the Huguenots, their principal advantages lay in the prestige of their leader's independent royal title as king of Navarre, his legitimate claim to the French Crown by ancient Salic Law and his demonstrated political skill. He also had shown promise as a resourceful soldier in the short conflicts fought between 1576 and 1580, though he was still largely untried as a battlefield commander. Whatever he lacked in experience, however, was compensated by his alliance (cemented in 1583) with Henri duc de Montmorency, the powerful leader of the moderate-Catholic politiques, who found himself similarly threatened by the Crown's efforts to displace him as gouverneur of Languedoc and by Guise ambition. Their combined territorial base stretched in an inverted arc through the south of France -- from Dauphine in the east, through Languedoc and Guyenne (Navarre's own gouvernement, which included his patrimonial domains of Bearn and Foix) in the Midi, up to Poitou, Saintonge and tiny Aunis in the west. There, it was anchored in the vital port city of La Rochelle, the chief stronghold of the Huguenots.

Although Alencon's death had sparked new political-religious crisis in France, the growing ferment over the next year was made worse by the irresolute policy of the Valois monarch. At first he seemed strongly inclined to unite forces with Navarre against the ultra-Catholic Guises. Indeed, as soon as it became evident that his brother's life was ebbing, Henri III recognised his Calvinist cousin's rights to the succession as "my sole and only heir" in accordance with Salic Law, despite his religious profession.(4) Clearly, to the Valois monarch there was no legal question "over who is to be my successor, as if it were a matter admitting of doubt or discussion."(5)

But because of the unprecedented constitutional issues raised by Navarre's Calvinist faith, many powerful men at court wanted to supplant him as heir presumptive, regardless of the king's endorsement. So to circumvent their opposition, the Valois monarch sent two agents to Guyenne in summer, 1584, to urge the king of Navarre to convert to Catholicism and return to Paris, as the only way to avert a renewal of civil war and secure his succession. In return, he was to be assured of Henri III's favour and his willingness to join forces with Navarre against the over-mighty Guise faction.(6)

But the Calvinist monarch declined both proposals.(7) In doing so, however, he adopted a moderate stance that was designed to meet the king's conditions half-way. He solemnly reaffirmed Huguenot loyalty to the French Crown, and offered his royal Catholic cousin all the aid at his party's disposal against the would-be disturbers of the public peace at the same time. He even went so far as to declare his willingness to receive instruction "in a free and properly established council, in which religious controversy may duly be debated and decided,"(8) without actually committing himself to an abjuration. Already, therefore, Navarre's political campaign to win over Henri III was taking shape, inspired in large measure by the king's own eagerness to secure his Calvinist cousin's conversion and then an alliance as a means of thwarting the Guises.

Elsewhere in France, meanwhile, the political situation deteriorated swiftly in the spring and summer of 1584 as the Guise faction rallied its forces, consolidated its growing strength to the north and east of Paris, and initiated an extensive propaganda campaign against the Huguenots. Hoping to disperse the gathering storm, Henri III issued a declaration on 11 November "against all persons making leagues, associations, musters of troops, intrigues and practices against the peace of this realm."(9) But his edict was ignored even by moderate Catholics, "who saw that he lacked the will and the power to enforce either his threats or his fair words."(10) Moreover, two months later, on 2 January 1585, the principal Guise leaders signed a secret treaty of"perpetual, offensive and defensive alliance" with an agent of Philip II at the chateau of Joinville, by which it was agreed that Catholicism was to be recognized as the sole religion in France, Henri de Navarre was to be excluded from the succession, and Madrid was to provide the Guises with financial support.(11) Thus the Holy Catholic League, initially formed in 1576 but disbanded by royal command the following year, was reconstituted with Spanish subsidies.

Now organized, funded and primed for action, the League leaders began to flaunt royal authority with near impunity, which pushed the kingdom ever closer to the brink of civil war. On 31 March 1585 they issued a manifesto from Peronne in which they claimed that they were taking up arms solely in defence of the Catholic faith against the Calvinist heresy, and named a League candidate as presumptive heir in the place of Navarre.(12) In reality this declaration was a direct attack on the government of Henri III, who just had published a second futile edict (on 28 March) that outlawed armed unions in the kingdom.(13) Meanwhile, the League leaders levied still more troops in the Holy Roman Empire and the Swiss cantons augmented the forces they already commanded. They also seized a number of strategic French towns to consolidate their hold over the provinces to the north and east of the Loire River. This effectively reduced the Crown's control to Paris, parts of western France and a few large cities in the south that still pledged allegiance. Thus, by spring 1585 it was becoming rapidly clear that a Guise offensive was imminent -- one "led and directed," the Huguenots charged, "by the spirit of Spain."(14)

Lacking both money and a military force of his own, Henri III's position became increasingly desperate as his political options narrowed. In early April he issued a third declaration against the new League and its recent manifesto;(15) he also raised fresh troops to counterbalance Guise strength. But the royal levies were so poor in quality that the Tuscan ambassador later despaired that anything "can be hoped from such men."(16) Finally, the king sent his mother, Catherine de Medici, to negotiate with the duc de Guise in Champagne as a means of buying time while he dispatched two more agents southward in a last-ditch effort to persuade Navarre to convert and unite with the Crown against the ultra-Catholic faction.(17) Clearly, the Valois monarch's personal and political preferences still drew him to his Calvinist cousin. But in view of the latter's steadfast refusal to abjure, and Henri III's own devotion to the Roman faith as a devout Catholic and "eldest son of the church," the Valois king could not ally himself formally with an alleged "heretic" or party of heretics against fellow Catholics, no matter whom or how menacing they were.

To avoid a dangerous rupture with Henri III, therefore, Navarre incorporated the political strategy with his current campaign which he had been developing ever since 1576. Built upon the twin principles of toleration and Huguenot loyalty to the Crown, its object was to disarm the explosive factor of religion by stressing the political ambitions that (he had asserted tirelessly) actually motivated the ultra-Catholic faction. To that end, he had directed French enmity toward the duc de Guise as the real enemy of France, who used religion as a "cloak" and a "false cover" to conceal more sinister designs.(18) In addition, he had appealed to his countrymen's common sense of duty to the Crown "as Frenchmen and citizens of the same Fatherland," while cultivating a reputation for himself and the Huguenots for unconditional loyalty and obedience to the king of France, even in times of civil war.(19) Then, to unite everything, Navarre had imposed a policy of religious toleration on his gouvernement of Guyenne and his patrimony of Bearn, beyond what was stipulated in the Treaty of Bergerac of 1577.(20) In this way, he had prepared his party for an uncertain political future by cutting across religious lines to attract substantial backing from moderate-Catholic sources, such as the duc de Montmorency and the politiques.(21)

Now faced with a potential rift in Huguenot relations with the Valois court, the Calvinist leader applied his political strategy still more carefully than before. Hence, though warned that "the Guises were on the point of exploding and that [the Calvinists] could not look out for their own safety too soon,"(22) he kept the party on a peaceful footing throughout 1584 and early 1585, apparently "letting passe [sic] all occasions to arm,"(23) in dutiful obedience to the French king's urgent appeals for patience. Navarre similarly saw to it that the Huguenots observed the terms of the previous peace treaties of Bergerac and Foix (15 80) in their dealings with the court, "on the assurance I have given them," he wrote to Henri III, "that your Majesty will see to the repression of your enemies, and to [Calvinist] safety at the same time."(24) As a further mark of loyalty, which also underscored his assertion that the new crisis was politically, not religiously motivated, he and the Catholic Montmorency issued a joint declaration in March, 15 85, which charged the Guises with wanting to usurp the Valois throne and foment civil war. Navarre then drove home his points by identifying his own interests as heir presumptive still more intimately with those of Henri III and the Valois Crown he might one day inherit.

These measures were very astute. Not only did they prevent League propaganda from misrepresenting the Huguenots and their behaviour as a justification for taking up arms in defence of the state or religion. They also allowed Navarre to present a stark contrast between Calvinist loyalty and obedience, on the one hand, and Guise disobedience and sedition, on the other, in order to win the confidence of Henri III. He did this with particular effect when warning the anxious monarch in March, 1585, for example, that "his person can be defended most loyally by one of his own blood [i.e., Navarre], and his state by those [i.e., the Huguenots] who can be saved only by conserving it."(25)

Moreover, the Calvinist leader's strategy paid the party an important early dividend. This was Henri III's consent, obtained after much lobbying in autumn, 15 84, to extend Huguenot tenure over eight security towns granted for their defence by the Treaty of Bergerac, for two years beyond the original expiration date of 1585.(26) Navarre then used this as a vehicle to secure further royal permission to fortify other Calvinist-held towns in his gouvernement as protection against the growing League menace.(27) Nor did his finesse at stretching a political inch into a country mile end here. For the Huguenot leader next informed the Valois king that, in the absence of explicit instructions, he could only guess at Henri III's wishes. Compelled to act on his own authority as royal governor, therefore, Navarre undertook whatever he thought was expedient or necessary to preserve public order in Guyenne, "according to the natural loyalty he had for [the king's] service."(28) In other words, by cleverly manipulating his status and extensive legal powers as a provincial governor in a way that did not directly contravene Henri III's recent edicts against armed unions, the Huguenot chef de parti found the means -- however dubious -- to begin raising troops and organizing his party for war, all with the apparent knowledge and consent of the Crown. It was clear to the Leaguer Villegomblain who noted with grudging admiration, Navarre "knew how to exploit his advantages whenever he had them."(29)

During the summer of 1585, however, the Huguenots' peaceful posture became increasingly untenable as political conditions in France disintegrated rapidly. Because of his Calvinist cousin's persistent refusal to convert, coupled with the extreme weakness of his own position, Henri III was compelled finally to sign an alliance with the Catholic League on 7 July at Nemours.(30) It also seems that he had run out of patience with Navarre and now was inclined to war, perhaps believing that force might accomplish what cajolery could not. Whatever the case, he apparently hoped that the new treaty would contain, or even siphon away Guise power as he had done in 1576-77. In reality, however, the Crown "was absorbed by the League,"(31) for that faction obtained everything it had demanded from the king. The limited religious toleration granted by previous royal edicts was rescinded; Calvinist worship was prohibited; and Guise control over the northeast of France was confirmed with royal subsidies to defray the League's military expenses.

In essence, the Treaty of Nemours was a declaration of war against the Huguenots.(32) This at last forced Henri de Navarre and the Calvinist party to prepare openly for the military struggle that everyone knew was coming. Already, between 1583 and early 1585, the Huguenot leader had written to various Protestant princes in western Europe to solicit pledges of men, money and materiel in the event of hostilities. At the same time, he had proposed the formation of a Protestant Union composed of the rulers of England, Denmark, various German states and the Huguenots as a common front against the Catholics' counter-reformation.(33) Now, however, Navarre's requests for aid became far more urgent and precise. To his agent in the Germanies, for example, he wrote:
 Make the largest levy of Reiters that you can; also, get as many Swiss as
 you can and a few lansquenets; as well, take on any volunteer princes ...
 [and] hire the best, most experienced officers ... Raise a second army at
 the same time with the help of the king of Denmark and those Christian
 princes interested in our preservation and the success of our struggle,
 which is so important ... See to it that Duke Casimir [of the Palatinate]
 takes charge and overall command of the foreign army ... [But] if he is
 unable to march in person, ... implore him in my name to use all his means,
 credit and authority to secure whatever we need in terms of officers,
 artillery and munitions, or cash for supplies, as well as the issuance of
 military instructions.(34)


But as this aid would be slow to materialize, Navarre focused his immediate attention on consolidating Huguenot defences m the southwest of France and around the fortress-city of La Rochelle. In particular, he fortified his strongholds along the Dordogne River as his chief line of defence, repairing their walls, reinforcing their garrisons and provisioning them with supplies and munitions.(35) The provincial nobility under his command were given similar orders "to see to their security without further delay, each in his own place, according to the means at hand," after which they were to join their chef de parti in the field.(36) These efforts were hampered, however, by the Huguenots' hitherto close observation of the recent peace treaties. For as both Mme. de Mornay and the vicomte de Turenne noted, the various strongholds had "been so stripped of gram ... that before the fall harvest, they could starve without difficulty." They were desperately short of munitions and weapons with which to defend themselves.(37)

Partly for this reason, Navarre intensified his aggressive political campaign vis-a-vis the Crown by redoubling Calvinist pledges of loyalty and service to Henri III. He also wrote personally to the Valois monarch on 10 and 21 July to point out the contradictory nature of his union with the Guises.(38) Next, taking the Huguenot cause before the kingdom at large, the Calvinist leader published three pronouncements in rapid succession.

In the first, the so-called "Declaration ... against the calumnies published against him," he repeated everything he had written privately to Henri III.(39) This was followed in early August by a second protest "concerning the peace made with the House of Lorraine, the chief and principal instigators of the League, to the prejudice of the House of France,"(40) issued jointly with Prince Henri de Conde, Navarre's troublesome first cousin and long-time rival for the Huguenot leadership, and the duc de Montmorency. A forceful appeal to French patriotism and monarchical sentiment, this publication accused the League princes of seeking to usurp the Crown as enemies of the Valois king and his realm. The three men then pledged themselves to "wage war with [the Guises] and exterminate them by every means in our power" with the aid of all "true and good Frenchmen," whom they summoned to assist them. Shortly after, the Calvinist monarch issued his third pronouncement, which similarly denounced the treaty of Nemours as "a peace made with foreigners ... at the expense of the House of France." "I intend to oppose it with all my heart," proclaimed the Huguenot leader, "and to this end to rally around me ... all true Frenchmen regardless of religion, since at this time it is a question of the defence of the state against the usurpation of foreigners."(41) Then, to reinforce this perception, Navarre began using very effectively the derogatory label "Spanish-Frenchmen" to contrast the ultra-Catholic enemy with all "bon Francois" whose first duty lay with the Valois Crown.

Together, these three pronouncements represented a counter-declaration of war against the Guises and the League, but significantly not against the king, whom the Calvinists and their politiques allies claimed to defend as royal champions. This essential distinction, stressed continuously by Navarre, was the initial point of convergence between his political and military campaigns. It implied that in the coming struggle, the Huguenots would differentiate between the opposing forces because, declared the duc de Montmorency, "it is not a question of discerning religions, but of separating the Lorrainers from the French, the League conspirators from the good Catholics."(42) Moreover, this shrewd propaganda device brought immediate benefits. Although the Calvinists' military position seemed weak on the surface, Navarre's three pronouncements were surprisingly effective even among many moderate French Catholics, who "flooded to his standard" until, by mid-September, they greatly swelled his ranks.(43) Such prominent individuals as the duc de Montpensier (Navarre's second cousin) and the pious duc de Nevers were moved similarly to reject the League and serve with the royal forces instead.(44)

But these successive declarations had only limited effect on Henri III. He evidently believed that if he were to restore peace to the realm, dissipate League power, and recover his rapidly diminishing authority, he had to secure the Huguenot chef de parti's conversion immediately. Only this could destroy the Guise edifice at a single blow by removing the sole pretext of religion upon which they claimed legitimacy.(45) But with Navarre's continued "obstinacy" on this issue, Henri III was forced to adopt a course of action he did not want by joining the League against the Calvinists and their chief. One thing is clear, however: Navarre's moderation, encouragement and restraint, the three bases of his political campaign to separate the Crown from its Guise allies and then to unite it with the Huguenot, kept open the lines of communication with the Valois king. He remained hopeful (despite submitting to the League) that his Calvinist cousin might yet be brought around to a conversion, as his repeated protests of loyalty and offers to receive instruction seemed to imply. In fact, the king reportedly declared in mid-July, just after joining forces with the League, that Navarre's recent pronouncements were "so full of excellent reasoning and offers" that "the majority of the nobility could not take up arms justifiably against" him.(46) Hence, he briefly delayed the full application of the Treaty of Nemours, as he sent yet a third delegation southward (on 21 July) in a final bid to induce his Calvinist cousin to abjure.(47)

With the failure, however, of these last-minute efforts to prevent civil conflict by negotiation, the exchange of words gave way to the contest of arms. The so-called "War of the Three Henris" (named for Henri III, Henri de Navarre and Henri de Guise) had begun.(48) In autumn 1585, several royal forces were mobilized against the Huguenots. One was to be directed by Guise's younger brother, the duc de Mayenne, to invade Guyenne. There, he was to rendezvous with the forces of the marechal de Matignon, a king's man as well as lieutenant-general of the province, who also enjoyed an "excellent correspondence" with the Calvinist Navarre.(49) Meanwhile, the royalist marechal de Biron (who "is nothing Leagueish," noted the English envoy)(50) and Henri III's two favourites, the ducs de Joyeuse and d' Epernon, were to have separate commands in Saintonge, Gascony and Provence respectively. In this way, Henri III hoped to maintain some control over the combined military operations with the specific aim of blunting League power. For the same reason, in Champagne and the northern provinces where the Guise faction was strongest, the Valois monarch purposely restricted the number of royal troops at the duke's disposal in the hope that the League leader would be defeated and perhaps even killed in action.(51) In consequence, the Huguenot Philippe Duplessis-Mornay predicted that although the Catholic forces would be large, their leadership would be divided, since Henri III "will follow no other design than what he plans for his own good."(52) The Leaguer Villegomblain similarly noted in his memoirs that while the king did not like the Calvinists, he hated and feared the Guises. This "saved the king of Navarre," concluded Villegomblain, for his party was so weak that had Henri III and his lieutenants not "traversed in every way they could the plans and enterprises" of the ultra-Catholic faction, the Calvinists might have been destroyed.(53)

Now faced with the reality of civil war and not just with its spectre, Navarre accelerated Huguenot military preparations, though their resources in terms of men, money and materiel were far less plentiful than those of the enemy. Thus forced by necessity, as Navarre once quipped, to wage war a la Huguenotte (i.e., "on a shoestring"),(54) the Calvinists assumed a defensive posture.(55) They were certainly in no condition to take the offensive at this time, or at least not until the great mercenary army then being raised in the German territories was ready to march. That fact was made abundantly clear by the prince de Conde's impetuosity at the start of the hostilities. Suddenly abandoning the siege he just had begun of strategic Brouage in Poitou, a vital target that commanded one of the major approaches to La Rochelle, Conde made a premature and ill-conceived attempt to seize the chateau of Angers-sur-Loire. He marched northward without sufficient strength, against over-whelming odds and contrary to the advice of cooler heads. The result was almost disastrous. Finding himself encircled by royal troops on the wrong side of the Loire River, the prince only narrowly prevented the loss of his entire force by dispersing it in small groups through the enemy lines. Meanwhile, La Rochelle and its approaches were left dangerously exposed to Catholic attack at a critical moment, as they had been stripped of soldiers for the prince's ill-fated foray. This reverse nearly crippled the Calvinists' initial war effort; it also seriously undermined their morale. For as Richard Wagmor, the English envoy, subsequently noted:
 The ill-succeeding voyage unto Angers hath so frostbitten the forwardness
 of the noblemen and gentlemen (as well of Poitou as other places), hitherto
 at the Prince's devotion, that though professing to continue the same, most
 part keep their houses or lie at [La] Rochelle, to temporise and attend the
 descent of the reiters.(56)


Far more successful, by contrast, were Henri de Navarre's defensive manoeuvres of "cat and mouse" in Guyenne, where his small forces effectively neutralized the two much larger armies of Mayenne and Matignon, blunting their advance and harassing them at every turn. To be sure, part of Navarre's achievement here was due to conditions beyond his control, and specifically that the enemy campaign was "directed with a certain lack of enthusiasm."(57) Matignon, for example, did not take the field until late autumn, 1585. Even then, he only half-heartedly confronted Navarre at Nerac in December and again at Castets the following February, when he fell back in order to join forces with Mayenne at the appointed time. Thereafter, the two Catholic commanders occupied themselves in the spring and summer of 1586 with seizing minor Huguenot strongholds, as opposed to more substantial targets. Meanwhile, their efforts were hampered further by the logistical problems of maintaining large bodies of troops on campaign for extended periods of time, as well as by the refusal of both commanders to cooperate with each other or to co-ordinate their movements -- perhaps on the secret orders of their respective leaders, the duc de Guise and Henri III --just as Duplessis-Mornay had predicted.

Nevertheless, the vigorous nature of Huguenot resistence under Navarre's leadership also prevented the enemy's success. Indeed, it was at this time that the Calvinist chef de parti began to earn his reputation as a skilled cavalry commander. Recognizing, unlike Conde, "that he had not strength enough to keep the field" against the enemy forces in Guyenne, Navarre rode with 2,000 arquebusiers a cheval (i.e., mounted infantry trained to fight on foot or on horseback), 300 light cavalry and 500 gens d'armes, "which yet were all veterans, well disciplined, ready upon every occasion, and not embarrassed with baggage or artillery." With these troops,
 he scoured the whole country, sometimes making sudden excursions into one
 part and sometimes into another, providing everything that was necessary,
 and never giving the enemy any opportunity of coming to an engagement with
 him ..."(58)


These rapid cavalcades were far more, however, than simple cavalry raids in force, as most historians allege. They were instead the manoeuvres of an equestrian army that could live off the land and strike swiftly wherever and whenever Navarre chose, or fight a conventional field battle when the need arose.(59) Moreover, this guerilla style of combat was well suited to his limited resources, and he excelled at it, once joking that "anyone who likes to relax inside his armour should not trouble to make war."(60)

In short, by employing a Fabian strategy,(61) Navarre utterly frustrated his opponents in Guyenne and next in Poitou, whither he shifted his forces in June 1586 to block yet another royal army under the redoubtable marechal de Biron. The marshal's intention, after sweeping Calvinist garrisons from Saintonge and Poitou, was to besiege Marans in the swamps of Aunis, just to the north of La Rochelle, as the capstone to restoring royal control over the region. But long before he reached his objective, Biron already admitted to feeling vulnerable before the rapid movements of the Huguenot leader's equestrian army which, he wrote, "will be able to make an assault [upon the royal forces] ... without risk, as infantry cannot run after cavalry!"(62) As well, given Navarre's ability to appear and vanish "like lightning,"(63) many other Catholics began to endorse Etienne Pasquier's opinion that if "the war is conducted in this fashion, I cannot see that we will have so prompt an end to the Huguenots as the League promises."(64)

Nor did subsequent events give them any reason to change their view. On the contrary, by the time Biron arrived before Marans on 10 July, the place had been fortified so skilfully by Navarre that it could be taken only by a protracted siege. Hence, after some light skirmishing between the opposing forces in which the marshal himself was wounded slightly, the royal troops withdrew without attempting a major assault. This "single check ... seems to have broken the fighting spirit" of Biron's army.(65) Coincidentally, Mayenne's desultory campaign in Guyenne against the Calvinists also ended at this time, having accomplished little or nothing(66) -- a point made loudly by Huguenot propagandists.(67) Meanwhile, the duc de Joyeuse's offensive in Gevaudan similarly ground to a halt. The Calvinists, in contrast, were by their own account "still fresh in spirit and courage, even stronger than before the war, and hold the field in all [their] provinces."(68) Given the enemy's failure to achieve anything of significance against the Huguenots, therefore, Navarre was justifiably pleased with his generalship, and boasted in mid-September that he had "resisted victoriously three fresh and well-paid armies."(69)

But if the Huguenot party's defensive military posture during this first phase of the civil war from fall 1585 to fall 1587, was compelled to a large degree by a lack of resources, it was dictated at least as much by the Calvinist leader's policy, and specifically his continuing efforts to achieve a rapprochement with the Valois king against the Guises and the League. This was, after all, the only aspect of the civil conflict in which the Huguenots could take the initiative with little risk and a reasonable chance of success. For that reason, Navarre had opened the campaign of 1586 with the publication of four new declarations, addressed this time to the citizens of Paris and the three estates of the realm.(70) In each, he reiterated his customary themes of Guise sedition and treachery against the Crown, his own religious moderation and Calvinist loyalty to Henri III. Moreover, the tone and content of these pronouncements were adapted to meet the particular character and attitude of their intended audience.

Their real purpose was, however, to keep open the lines of communication with the French king, who was increasingly resentful of Guise arrogance and eager to escape it. To that extent, the new declarations succeeded; for on three separate occasions over the next year and a half, Henri III -- apparently seeing an opportunity -- renewed his efforts to persuade Navarre to convert and return to the court as his rightful heir and ally. He even authorized an extended conference that met from December 1586 to March 1587, between Catherine de Medici and his Calvinist cousin on the neutral ground of the chateau of Saint-Brice, near Cognac, under cover of a general truce. But when these talks failed to produce the desired result, the frustrated queen mother returned to Paris and hostilities resumed with full vigour. Still hopeful, however, that he could yet bring his cousin to reason and thereby throw off the Guise yoke, Henri III made a last, unsuccessful appeal to Navarre in May,(71) despite just having renewed the Treaty of Nemours (on 20 April) under League pressure.(72) Not until spring, 1589, when he was isolated politically after murdering the duc de Guise at Blois, would the French king again approach his Calvinist cousin for support.

Yet at no time was the convergence of Henri de Navarre's military and political campaigns more apparent than in the events of the second half of 1587, when a new challenge arose to threaten that delicate balance. This began with his recognition in autumn the previous year that the Calvinists' style of fighting to that point was "something which cannot endure," and that "it will be necessary, in the end, to take the offensive."(73) By that he meant two things. First, his tactical sense told him that a defensive war ultimately could not succeed; it was, at best, a temporary holding action. Until improved conditions allowed the Huguenot party to seize the military, as well as the political initiative, Calvinist efforts were limited perforce to obstructing the enemies' movements, exhausting their means and sapping their morale.

Second, Navarre's strategic sense told him, perhaps as early as 1585 (if the duc de Sully can be believed), that in order to achieve Calvinist objectives, at some point he would have to take the conflict across the Loire River into the heart of enemy territory, "as this is the only way," he said, "to bring them to reason."(74) That moment arrived in autumn, 1587, when the large army raised for the Huguenot cause by his agents in the Holy Roman Empire finally invaded northeastern France. This event required Navarre to move with great dexterity, if he were to avoid alienating the Valois monarch and at the same time preserve the image he had built since 1584 of Huguenot loyalty to the Crown. Hitherto, his successful balancing of both political goals had depended in large measure on restricting the Calvinist war effort to one of self-defence. But this new development in the military campaign was clearly offensive in nature. And that threatened to bring the Huguenots into direct conflict against Henri III with potentially disastrous results for their leader's ongoing political campaign to win the king.

No sooner, therefore, was Navarre informed that the German forces were almost ready to march, than he issued on 14 July a "Protest concerning the entry of his army into France."(75) His goal, as usual, was to separate Henri III from the League -- not just by fair words, this time, but by offering him the military means to do so. To that end, he began the declaration by reminding the Valois monarch that the Huguenots fought solely to protect him "and all bons Francois from the oppression of the sworn enemies of this Crown and State." For precisely that reason, Navarre continued,
 ... we have maintained a defensive war, ... hoping that our patience would
 calm the fury and rage of those of the House of Lorraine and, meantime,
 that his Majesty would recognize the truth of their pernicious designs to
 exterminate totally the House of France, and by that means usurp the
 kingdom ...(76)


He then concluded by declaring his readiness, upon Henri III's command, to place the German mercenary army at the king's disposal, in order "to deliver him from the tyranny of the Lorrainers."

But instead of accepting this offer, the Valois monarch prepared to meet the coming invasion with three forces of his own. The first, led by the duc de Guise, was assigned to Champagne, through which the Germans were expected to march. A second army was dispatched under the duc de Joyeuse to Poitou, where Navarre had spent the late summer and early autumn sparring with the royal forces, seizing small towns and generally enlarging Huguenot control of the region around La Rochelle. The third and largest royal army, finally, was commanded in person by Henri III, who took up a position along the Loire in order to prevent the junction between the Calvinist and mercenary forces. In making these dispositions, the king secretly gambled that Joyeuse would defeat the Huguenots, and that the Germans would destroy the duc de Guise after suffering heavy losses of their own. According to Villegomblain, Henri even secretly ordered the loyalist officers in the duke's army to abandon him at the crucial moment to leave him "naked, without force and powerless."(77) The Valois monarch then could emerge triumphant over both parties, with his authority intact and his dignity restored.(78)

But at this point, events moved too rapidly for him to control. In September, news of the German army's advance summoned Navarre eastward to meet it. But before he could do more than reassemble the troops he had scattered among the various strongholds along his defensive line in Poitou, Joyeuse marched directly toward him with the clear intention of forcing a battle. At the same time, the marechal de Matignon moved northwestward from Bordeaux to catch the Huguenot forces in a pincer movement.

Thus, after leaving La Rochelle, Navarre tried to avoid the enemy trap by slipping across Joyeuse's front in a southerly direction before Matignon could block his route. Evidently, his plan was to put his fortified line of the Dordogne River between himself and the enemy, and then circle northward to rendezvous with the Germans along the Moselle. From there, they would march toward Paris.(79) But before he could accomplish this manoeuvre, he was overtaken by Joyeuse. Despite the superior numbers and equipment of the royal army, however, Navarre won a resounding victory over the duke in little more than an hour, during which the royal favourite and 2,500 of his troops were slain. Huguenot losses amounted to only about 500 men. News of the debacle halted the advance of Matignon, who quickly placed all blame for it on Joyeuse. The dead man's impetuosity and lust for reputation (the marshal charged) had caused him to attack Navarre before the two royal armies could join forces.

Yet this unexpected triumph confronted the Huguenot leader with a potentially ruinous paradox. Coutras was the first major victory won by the Huguenots since the beginning of the civil wars in 1562, and from it Navarre earned high praise for his generalship. But in defeating Joyeuse, he had killed a king's man -- a royal favourite, no less -- and destroyed a king's army. This diametrically contradicted the stated goals of his political and military campaigns, which were focused against the League. To control the damage this might cause, therefore, the Calvinist chef de parti wrote a letter to Henri III immediately following the battle, in which he justified the fighting on the basis of self-defence, apologized for the slaughter of so many royal troops and once more emphasized the unity of his interests with those of the French Crown.(80) In conclusion, he pleaded with the Valois monarch to use both him and the Huguenots in the royal service against the Guise faction, and renewed his pledges of loyalty and obedience. Then to demonstrate his sincerity with a display of good faith, Navarre had the body of Joyeuse embalmed carefully and interred honourably according to Catholic ritual; he also treated his prisoners with elaborate courtesy. For like the dead Joyeuse, these were the king's men, not members of the League,(81) and the Huguenot leader's purpose always was to draw a sharp distinction between them. That point he emphasized once more to the royalist marechal de Matignon, to whom he expressed his regret that, on the day of Coutras, "I could not differentiate the good and natural Frenchmen from the partisans and adherents of the League" among those who were killed.(82)

For the same reason, Navarre did not follow-up the Huguenot victory by marching to rendezvous with the invading German army on the upper Loire, as originally planned. This was due partly to logistics. Because the Calvinist forces were in no condition to continue the campaign following the battle, Navarre was compelled to disband them for several weeks in order to allow his troops to rest and re-outfit.(83) His decision certainly was not motivated by an irresponsible desire to lay the captured enemy flags at the feet of his mistress in Bearn, as some contemporaries and most historians allege. Far more significant than logistics, however, was the important political consideration -- especially in the wake of Coutras -- that the Calvinist leader dared undertake no project that would bring the Huguenots into conflict with Henri III himself. Precisely because the king's own army blocked his route across the Loire, Navarre could not march directly to meet the Germans. This in turn denied the cumbersome mercenary army effective leadership against the duc de Guise, who defeated it handily at Auneau on 24 November (to Henri III's chagrin), despite the smallness of his forces. Following their capitulation on 8 December,(84) the Germans were chased quickly from the kingdom in confusion and with considerable loss.(85) From a strictly military perspective, therefore, Sully was correct in concluding that all the advantage of the Huguenot victory over Joyeuse "floated away like smoke on the wind."(86) But from Navarre's much broader political perspective, restoring the integrity of his campaign to win the Valois monarch was more important than securing his short-term military gains.

From this point forward, the focus of French attention shifted from the battlefield to the Valois court, where the royal situation was deteriorating rapidly. Eager for the acclaim he had won at Auneau, an over-confident duc de Guise entered Paris in May, 1588, in open defiance of Henri III's express commands to remain in Champagne. This action precipitated the Day of the Barricades on 12 May, when the agitated citizenry -- fearing that the popular duke would be arrested -- blockaded the city streets and threatened to massacre the royal troops whom the king had introduced into the capital to maintain order. Only the duke's personal intercession with the mob saved these soldiers from almost certain slaughter.

Thus deeply humiliated, Henri III fled Paris the next day with only a small guard. Navarre immediately offered both his services and his army to the Valois king against the duc de Guise whose behaviour, he declared, was clear evidence of his greater interest in usurping the crown than in defending religion.(87) But Henri III still insisted that any rapprochement be preceded by the Huguenot leader's immediate conversion to Catholicism. Unable, meanwhile, to attract support from other quarters, the French monarch was compelled to sign the Edict of Reunion with the League on 11 July. This was a complete surrender to ultra-Catholic demands that he eradicate the Calvinist heresy, exclude Navarre from the succession, appoint the duc de Guise as Lieutenant-General of the realm and convoke the Estates-General at Blois in October. But this time the League leader had gone too far. On 23 December, during the sessions at Blois, Henri III had him murdered in a desperate bid to recover his authority.

Yet the king's action came too late to help him. Confronted subsequently with fierce ultra-Catholic opposition and a kingdom in open revolt against him because of Guise's murder, Henri III found himself politically isolated and in danger of losing his throne.(88) As a result, concluded the Venetian ambassador, "there is no longer any reason to fear the Crown of France."(89) Navarre, however, was ecstatic at this turn of events,(90) for the way was opened finally to a political reconciliation with the Valois monarch. Indeed, the assassination and then rebellion of much of Catholic France against the hapless Henri effectively dissolved "the impediments and obstacles to reaching some good agreement for peace,"(91) while even the king's remaining servitors recognized that an alliance with the Huguenots and their chef de parti was now the only alternative to a complete royal defeat.(92) The English ambassador agreed with this assessment, observing: "One thing I am sure of, that in all likelihood all yet turneth onelie [sic] to the king of Navarre's good."(93)

Nevertheless, Henri III still hesitated to take the final step and perhaps even thought of continuing the war with the Huguenots because of the necessity at this time of showing that he was a good Catholic.(94) Hence, his Calvinist cousin moved very cautiously over the next few weeks so as not to pressure the king or frighten him away. For that reason, he withheld making any overt offers of assistance until it was politically propitious to do so. Meanwhile, to smooth the way to an alliance with the reluctant monarch, Navarre published a fresh appeal for peace on 4 March, in which he vigorously reaffirmed his devotion to Henri III and reemphasized the community of interests between the French Crown and its Huguenot subjects. "We are in a house that is going to collapse," he concluded urgently, "a boat which is going to be lost, and there is no remedy but peace ..."(95)

Finally, a trace was concluded on 3 April between the two monarchs at Plessisles-Tours.(96) With that treaty, the goals of Henri de Navarre's political and military campaigns were realized. Then uniting their armies, the Catholic king and his Huguenot ally swept aside League resistance before marching in late July on rebellious Paris, in order "to attack the enemy in their chiefest strength ..."(97) But on 1 August, Henri III -- the last of the Valois line -- was himself murdered by Jacques Clement. The Catholic crown of France thus passed to his Calvinist cousin in conformity with custom and traditional Salic Law, but against religious convention, which sparked a new phase in the continuing civil war.

It is a peculiarity of modern treatments of the French wars of religion that although the political and military aspects of the conflict are examined in more or less detail, depending upon the focus of the individual researcher, the close connexion between them is explored rarely, if ever. Instead, they are dealt with as separate, albeit concurrent components of the same straggle, but with scant regard to the way in which they complemented or depended upon each other. Only under specific circumstances, such as the obvious political consequences of a battlefield defeat or the clear military ramifications of particular policy decisions, is this connexion acknowledged at all. As a result of this tendency to compartmentalise the subject because of a limited perspective, or to list the "facts" as a simple sequence of events, the danger of misinterpreting the motives and behaviour of key players in the drama is real, especially when their actions appear at first glance to be inconsistent or contradictory.

Such is the case with Henri de Navarre and the Huguenot campaigns of 1584 to 1589. For unless one first recognizes the intimate correlation between the Calvinist leader's political and military direction of the party's affairs -- which can be seen only by examining the care with which he balanced Huguenot actions with words, and Huguenot words with actions -- the consistent logic that lay behind his decision-making will be missed. Navarre understood that Calvinist success prior to 1589 depended upon separating Henri III from the League, but he also knew that goal could be achieved only by offering the Valois king an alternative to his alliance with the Guises that threatened neither his dignity nor his authority. Hence, his care to limit the Huguenots to defensive action in the war, while pursuing an aggressive propaganda campaign that emphasized patriotism, religious moderation and the ancient bonds of loyalty to the monarchy. In other words, like Frederick "the Great," Navarre recognized that in this high-stakes game of cat and mouse, the business of war was too important to be left to mere generalship. It is this that largely separates him as a leader from the duc de Guise, who never learned how to take the power and leave Henri III his pride. Such arrogance, combined with a narrowness of vision that could not allow for compromise, eventually cost the League its royal alliance and the duke his life.

(1) J.H.M. Salmon, Society in Crisis: France in the Sixteenth Century (London, 1975), p. 235.

(2) D. Buisseret, Henry IV (London, 1984), p. 15.

(3) Ibid.

(4) Philippe Duplessis-Mornay, Clervant and Chassincourt to Henri de Navarre, 14 April 1584, in P. Duplessis-Marlay, sieur de Mornay, Memoires et correspondence, 12 vols. (Pads, 1824-25) II, 275-76; Giulio Busini to Belisario Vinta, 14 May 1584, in G. Canestrini and A. Desjardins, (eds.), Negotiations diplomatiques de la France avec la Toscan, 6 vols. (Pads, 1859-86) IV, 506.

(5) Quoted by Duplessis-Mornay, Clervant and Chassincourt in their report to Henri de Navarre, 14 April 1584, Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, II, 275-76.

(6) Pomponne de Bellievre to Catherine de Medici, 16 May, Bibliotheque Nationale, Fonds Francais 15891, fol. 406; Pomponne de Bellievre to President Jeannin, 13 December 1592, Bibliotheque Nationale, Collection Dupuy 779, fol. 191; Giulio Busini to Belisario Vinta, 14 and 29 May, 10 July 1584, Negs. Tosc., IV, 506, 508, 519; Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, vicomte de Turenne, duc de Bouillon, Memoires, vol. IX, F. Michaud and Poujoulat, eds., Nouvelle collection des memoires relatives a l'histoire de France, 34 vols. (Paris, 1854), p. 49; Theodore Agrippa d'Aubigne, in L. LaLanne (ed.), Memoires, (Paris, 1889), p. 69.

(7) Even if he genuinely had leaned toward an abjuration at this time, which was very doubtful given the strength of his Calvinist convictions, it would have been a gamble to do so. According to Pomponne de Bellievre, by converting on the eve of civil war "solely out of fear of royal attack," Navarre would alienate the Huguenots, whose position would become dangerously vulnerable, but without securing his political future. (See Pomponne de Believre to Catherine de Medici, 16 May 1585, BN. FF. 15891, fol. 406.) For the state of Navarre's conscience and religious convictions at this time, see R.S. Love, "The Symbiosis of Religion and Politics: Reassessing the Final Conversion of Henri IV," Historical Reflections/Reflexions Historiques, XXI (Winter 1995), 27-56.

(8) B. Xivrey, (ed.), Recueil des lettres missives de Henri IV, 9 vols. (Paris, 1843-1856), I, 502-3. See also P.-V. Palma Cayet, Chronologie novenaire, contenant l'histoire de la guerre et les choses les plus memorables advenues sous le regne de Henri IV, 1589-1598, in Michaud and Poujoulat, XII (18??), p. 169; P. de Vaissiere, Henri IV (Paris, 1925), p. 262.

(9) Gomberville, (ed.), Les Memoires de monsieur le duc de Nevers, prince de Mantoue, pair de France, gouverneur et lieutenant general pour les rois Charles IX, Henry III et Henri IV en diverses provinces de ce royaume, 2 vols. (Paris, 1665), I, 633-34.

(10) Buisseret, p. 17.

(11) BN. FF. 18895, vols. 127-43.

(12) "Declaration des causes qui ont meu Monseigneur le Cardinal de Bourbon et les Princes, pairs, seigneurs, Villes et Communautez de ce Royaume de France de s'opposer a ceux qui par tous moiens s'esforcent de subvertir la Religion catholique et tout l'estat," BN. Dupuy 500, vols. 145-49vo. The heir promoted by the League was the aged Charles, cardinal de Bourbon, Henri de Navarre's paternal uncle.

(13) Goulart, I, 70-71.

(14) Philippe Duplessis-Mornay to the comte de Cheverny, 29 and 30 March 1585, Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, III, 9, 10.

(15) "Declaration de la volonte du roy sur les nouveaux troubles de ce royaume," Simon Goulart, ed., Memoires de la Ligue, 6 vols. (Amsterdam, 1758) I, 72-82.

(16) Giulio Busini to Belisario Vinta, 16 April 1585, Negs. Tosc., IV, 563. See also Philippe Hurault, comte de Cheverny, Memoires, in Michaud and Poujoulat, X, 483.

(17) Giulio Busini to Belisario Vinta, 16 April, 5 March and 13 May 1585, Negs. Tosc., IV, 549, 563,572; Cheverny, p. 483.

(18) See, for example, Henri de Navarre to the Nobility, Cities and Communities of Guyenne, 21 December 1576, LM, I, 116.

(19) See Henri de Navarre to the Nobility, Cities and Communities of Guyenne, 21 December 1576; to the sieur de Verac, 24 February 1576; to the duc de Montpensier, 7 September 1577; to the duc de Montmorency, 8 and 22 September 1577; to Henri III, two letters dated July 1578; to Catherine de Medici, 29 July 1579, ibid., p. 116, 131, 147, 150-53, 181-82, 188, 237.

(20) See Henri de Navarre to the duc de Montmorency, 15 August 1576; to the Nobility, Cities and Communities of Guyenne, 21 December 1576; to the sieur de Batz, January 1577; to the officers and consuls of Bergerac, 27 December 1577; to the sieur de Puysegur, 7 May 1578; to M. de Meslan, 25 November 1580, ibid., pp. 100, 116, 121-22, 157, 172, 329; "Remonstrance a la France sur la protestation des chefs de la Ligue, faicte l'an 1585," in Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, III, 66-67; Theodore Agrippa d'Aubigne, in Baron A. de Ruble, (ed.), Histoire universelle, 10 vols. (Paris, 1886-1909) V, 175.

(21) Love, "Symbiosis of Religion and Politics," pp. 40-41.

(22) Charlotte d'Arbaleste, Mme. de Mornay, in Mme. de Witt, (ed.), Memoires, 2 vols. (Paris, 1868) I, 219.

(23) J. de Serres (trans. E. Grimeston), Generall Historie of France to 1598 (London, 1611), 831.

(24) Henri de Navarre to Henri III, May 1585, in Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, III, 21-22.

(25) Henri de Navarre to M. de Chassincourt, c. March 1585, ibid., p. 15.

(26) "Au Roy," 7 September 1584, ibid., II, 664-66; "Instruction h M. le comte de Laval et a M. Duplessis, aulxquels aussi a este adjoinct le sieur Constant, de ce qu'ils auront a dire et remonstrer a sa majeste de la part du roy de Navarre et de l'assemblee des Eglizes, teneue a Montauban par la permission de sa majeste; dressee par M. Duplessis," 13 September 1584, ibid., 667-79; Philippe Duplessis-Mornay to M. de Saincte-Aldegonde, 23 December 1584, ibid., 690. For the grant of the security towns in 1577, see Item 59 of the Treaty of Bergerac, reproduced in full in A. Stegman (ed.), Edits des guerres de religion (Pads, t 979), 131-53.

(27) Henri de Navarre to Henri III, May 1585, in Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, III, 23-24. See also Mme. de Mornay, I, 220.

(28) Henri de Navarre to Henri III, May 1585; and "Instructions to MM. de Clervant and de Chassincourt," 1585, in Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, III, 24, 82-86.

(29) Fr. Racine, seigneur de Villegomblain, in Rivaudas de Villegomblain (ed.), Memoires des troubles arrives en France sous les regnes des rois Charles IX, Henri III et Henri IV, 2 vols. (Paris, 1667-68) II, 200.

(30) BN. FF. 18895, fols. 144-52.

(31) Buisseret, p. 18.

(32) Henri de Navarre to Segur-Pardaillan, July 1585, LM, II, 20.

(33) "Instructions to M. de Chatillon for the national council at Nimes," c. April 1585, in Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, III, 39-40; d'Aubigne, Hist. univ., VI, 176.

(34) Henri de Navarre to Francois de Segur, 19 August 1585, LM, II, 120. For other examples, see: "Accord et capitulation faicte entre le roy de Navarre et le duc Cazimir, pour la levee de l'armee des Reytres veneus en France en l'an 1587," in Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, IV, 57-81; "Memoire au doctor Grune," 1585, Bibliotheque Nationale, Collection des Cinq Cents de Colbert 402, fols. 70-71. The Reiters (sometimes called Schwartz-Reiters because of their black armour) were Germany mercenary cavalry who relied upon the pistol in their attacks. The lansquenets (or Landesknecht in German) were German mercenary infantry, skilled in the use of the pike. First raised by the Emperor Maximilien I for use against the Swiss, these German troops were ubiquitous on sixteenth-century battlefields, though often noted for their unreliability.

(35) Bouillon, p. 52; Mme. de Mornay, I, 159; Giulio Busini to Belisario Vinta, 26 September 1585, Negs. Tosc., IV, 593.

(36) "Instructions au sieur Constant, allant de la part du roy de Navarre vers M. de Montmorency; dressee par M. Duplessis," July 1585, in Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, III, 152, 155.

(37) Mme. de Mornay, I, 156; Bouillon, p. 52.

(38) Henri de Navarre to Henri III, 10 July 1585, Goulart, I, 192-95; Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, III, 141-45.

(39) Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, III, 89-126.

(40) Goulart, I, 201-19.

(41) LM, II, 129-30.

(42) "Protestation de M. le duc de Montmorency," 1585, Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, III, 193-94.

(43) Great Britain, Public Records Office, Calendar of State Papers Foreign Series 1583, art. 734; Filippo Cavriana to Belisario Vinta, 4 August and 17 September 1585, Negs. Tosc., IV 622, 624; "Le proems verbal d'un nomme Nicolas Poulain," B.N. Dupuy 770, fol. 282.

(44) Filippo Cavriana to Belisario Vinta, 9 July 1585, Negs. Tosc., IV, 614. See also Nevers' correspondence with Pope Sixtus V in 1585 and 1586, in Mems. de Nevers, I, passim.

(45) Giulio Busini to Belisario Vinta, 9 July 1585; Filippo Cavriana to Belisario Vinta, 4 August 1585, Negs. Tosc., IV, 588, 623.

(46) "Instruction au sieur de Constant, allant de la part du roy de Navarre vers M. de Montmorency; dressee par M. Duplessis," July 1585, in Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, III, 151-52.

(47) Filippo Cavriana to Belisario Vinta, 4 August 1585, Negs. Tosc., IV, 623. See also Villegomblain, I, 375.

(48) In his Memoires (p. 59), Agrippa d'Aubigne called it instead the "war of the barricades," either because of the defensive character of the Huguenot war effort, or in reference to subsequent events in Paris in May, 1588.

(49) Philippe Duplessis-Mornay to president Duranti, 31 June 1585, in Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, III, 48.

(50) Sir Thomas Stafford to Sir Francis Walsingham, 9 February 1586, CSP Foreign, XX, 363.

(51) Filippo Cavriana to Belisario Vinta, 17 September 1585, Negs. Tosc., IV; Cheverny, p. 483; Mme. de Mornay, 1, 159; Edouard Barthelemy, (ed.), Journal d'un cure liguer de Paris sous les trois derniers Valois, suivi du Journal du secretaire de Philippe du Bec, archeveque de Reims, de 1588 a 1605 (Paris, 1865), 199-200; Buisseret, p. 21.

(52) Philippe Duplessis-Mornay to the duc de Montmorency, 11 July 1585, in Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, II, 156-57.

(53) Villegomblain, II, 373-74.

(54) Henri IV to the comtesse de Grammont, 16 January [n.d.], in D. Valori, (ed.), Journal militaire de Henri IV, 1589-1597, suivi de lettres (Paris, 1821), p. 328.

(55) L. Maimbourg (trans. J. Dryden), The History of the League (London, 1684), p. 146.

(56) Richard Wagmor to Sir Francis Walsingham, 20 April 1586, CSP Foreign, XX, 537. See also Maimbourg, pp. 149-53.

(57) Buisseret, p. 21.

(58) H.C. Davila (trans. Ellis Farnsworth), The History of the Civil Wars of France. (London, 1763), pp. 498-99; E. Hardy, Origines de la tactique francaise, (Paris, 1881), II, 693-94.

(59) R.S. Love, "`All the King's Horsemen': The Equestrian Army of Henri IV, 1585-1598," The Sixteenth Century Journal, vol. XXII, no. 3 (Fall 1991), 524.

(60) Henri de Navarre to the sieur de Saint-Genies, January 1580, LM, I, 265.

(61) J. de Serres (trans. T. Timme), The Three Partes of Commentaries of the Civil Warres of Fraunce, 4 vols. (London, 1574-1576) III, 903; A. Colynet, The True History of the Civil Warres of France, betweene the French King Henry the 4. and the Leaguers. Gathered from the yere of our Lord 1585. until the present October. 1591 (London, 1591), p. 451; Richard Wagmor to Sir Francis Walsingham, 20 April 1586, CSP Foreign, XX, 535; Etienne Pasquier to M. de Saincte-Marthe, 1586, in D. Thickett, (ed.), Lettres historiques pour les annees 1585-1594 (Geneva, 1966), pp. 265-66.

(62) Marechal de Biron to Henri III, 20 June 1586, in J.W. Thompson and S.H. Erheman (eds.), Letters and Documents of Armand de Gontaut de Biron, 2 vols. (Berkeley, 1936), II, p. 388.

(63) Davila, p. 499.

(64) Etienne Pasquier to M. de Saincte-Marthe, 1586, Pasquier, Lettres, p. 266.

(65) Vaissiere, Henri IV, p. 274.

(66) Henri de Navarre to Francois de Segur, 1586, BN. 500 Colbert 402, fol. 33; "Memoire des deportements de M. Duplessis a Montauban, l'an 1586," pp. 412-13; Sir Thomas Stafford to Sir Francis Walsingham, 9 February 1586, and Richard Wagmor to Sir Francis Walsingham, 20 April 1586, CSP Foreign, XX, 363, 535-36; Colynet, p. 111; Philippe Duplessis-Mornay to Pomponne de Bellievre, 26 September 1586, in Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, III, 334.

(67) "Response a ung petit discours sur le voyage de M. de Mayenne en Guyenne," 22 December 1586, in Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, III, 386-407.

(68) Philippe Duplessis-Mornay to Francois de Segur, 29 April 1587, ibid., p. 499.

(69) Henri de Navarre to Francois de Segur, 20 September 1586, LM, II, 239.

(70) "All four declarations are reprinted in Goulart, I, 331-42; Duplessis-Mornay, III, 286-310; LM, II, 165-80.

(71) BN. FF. 3406, fols. 15-16.

(72) Bibliotheque Mazarine 2593, fols. 196-205.

(73) Ibid.. This view was shared by the English ambassador, Sir Thomas Stafford. (See Stafford to Sir Francis Walsingham, 27 February 1586, CSP Foreign, XX, 395.)

(74) Quoted in D. Buisseret and B. Barbiche (eds.), Les Economies royales du duc de Sully, 2 vols. (Paris, 1970, 1988), I, 129-30.

(75) LM, II, 294-97; Bib. Maz. 2593, fols. 216-19. A contemporary English translation was published under the title: The King of Navarres Declaration at the Passage of the River of Loire for the Service of his Majestie, the 18. of Aprill. 1587 (London, 1589).

(76) LM, II, 294-95.

(77) Villegomblain, I, 417, 419.

(78) In fact, according to a "Lettre interceptee et dechiffree, escrite a M. de Joyeuse" (dated 11 August 1587), Henri III and Catherine de Medici, hating the League, would turn against it if it were defeated by the invading Germans. (See Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, III, 513.)

(79) This, at least, was the conclusion of the observant Pomponne de Bellievre, who watched the Germans' progress closely (BN. FF. 15892, fols. 114-15). See also: "Instruction pour M. de Montmartin, allant en Allemagne," 1586, and the "Instruction envoyee en Allemagne par le moyen du sieur de Morlas; dressee par M. Duplessis," 15 September 1587, in Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, III, 284-85, 516-22; H. de Beaumont de Perefixe (trans. J.D.), Henry the Great (London, 1661), p. 56. After the German defeat in November, however, Sir Thomas Stafford reported to Lord Burghley (8 January 1588) that according to some of the men around Henri de Navarre, the Huguenot leader never had intended to join the mercenary forces. He planned only to take advantage of the damage and terror they cause to extort carte blanche from Henri III, "thinking that coming near Paris was the way to do that, which indeed was [the Germans'] undoing." (CSP Foreign, XXI, 480.)

(80) L. Dussieux (ed.), Grands faits de l'histoire de France, vol. IV (Paris, 1879), pp. 27-28.

(81) Villegomblain, I, 415; A briefe discourse of the merveylous victory gotten by the king of Navarre, against those of the Holy League, on the twentieth of October 1587 (London, 1587), p. 7; "La Bataille de Coutras, 1587," Goulart, II, 243.

(82) Henri de Navarre to the marechal de Matignon, 23 October 1587, LM, II, 309-11.

(83) Vicomte de Turenne to the prince de Conde, November 1587; "Memoire envoyee par le roy de Navarre en l'armee estrangere, qui le debvait venir joindre au commencement de novembre 1587; faicte par M. Duplessis"; "Instruction au sieur de Monglat, retournant de la part du roy de Navarre vers l'armee estrangere sur la fin de novembre 1587; dressee par M. Duplessis," in Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, IV, 38, 39-40, 43-46; [C. de La Chastre], Les memorables faits advenuz en 1587 (Paris, 1588).

(84) See the "Articles of capitulation made by the Duke of Epernon with the Prince de Conty, chief and conductor of the army of strangers, the Duke of Bouillon, the Baron d'Hone and the colonels, captains, reiters, lords, gentlemen, etc., of their army," 8 December 1587, CSP Foreign, XXI, 428.

(85) For published contemporary accounts of the German army and its ultimate defeat, see: "Memoires de tout ce qui s'est faict et passe en l'armee du roy de Navarre, composee de Reytres, lansquenets, Swisses, et Francois; depuis le 23 juin jusqu'au 13 decembre 1587," in Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, IV, 82-94; M. de La Huguerye, Ephemeride de l'expedition des Allemands en France (Aout-Decembre 1587) (Pads, 1892).

(86) Sully, Economies royales, I, 193. Villegomblain agreed (I, 425), adding that this result even damaged Navarre's reputation.

(87) Henri de Navarre to Mme. de Fontevrault, May 1588, in J. Nouaillac (ed.), Henri IV raconte par lui-meme (Pads, 1913), p. 151; see also Sir Thomas Stafford to Sir Francis Walsingham, 29 May 1588, CSP Foreign, XXI, 630.

(88) See "La vie d'Henri 4," Bibliotheque de l Arsenal 3423, fols. 97-8; Etienne Pasquier to the comte de Sanzay, April 1589, Dussieux, Grands Faits, pp. 109-10; Etienne Pasquier to Harlay de Sancy, April 1589, Pasquier, Lettres historiques, p. 423.

(89) Hieronomo Lippomano to the Doge and Senate of Venice, 23 February 1589, Great Britain, Public Records Office, Calendar of State Papers, Venetian Series, VIII, 429.

(90) In fact, no sooner did Navarre learn of Guise's murder than he wrote to his mistress, the comtesse de Grammont, on 1 January 1589, to whom he declared: "The king triumphs!" See J.-P. Babelon (ed.), Henri IV: lettres d'amour et ecrits politiques (Paris, 1988), p. 127.

(91) LM, II, 421.

(92) Henri de Navarre to M. Du Pin, 12 April 1589, in Babelon, Henri IV: lettres d'amour ..., p. 134, "Lettre de Monsieur de Bellievre au Roy de Navarre apres les Barricades en ladicte Annie 1588," Archives des Affaires Etrangeres, Memoires et Documents, France 294, fols. 4-7; the sieur de Buzenval to Lord Burghley, 17 July 1588, CSP Foreign, XXII, 53. As the duc de Nevers observed to Henri III on 20 August 1588, the Guises and the League "are enemies who are much more to be feared than the king of Navarre." (Mems. de Nevers, I, 855.)

(93) Sir Edward Stafford to Sir Francis Walsingham, 5 February 1589, CSP Foreign, XXIII, 94.

(94) Philippe Duplessis-Mornay to Henri de Navarre, 27 December 1588, in Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, IV, 281.

(95) Henri de Navarre to the three Estates of the Kingdom, 4 March 1589, in V.D. Musset-Pathay (ed.), Vie militaire et privee de Henri IV (Paris: 1803), pp. 109-21; The King of Navarres Declaration at the Passage of the River of Loire ... 1587, n.p.

(96) "Articles du traite de la tresve negotiee par M. Duplessis, de la part du roy de Navarre, avec le roy Henry III," 3 April 1589, in Duplessis-Mornay, Memoires, IV, 351-55.

(97) Maimbourg, pp. 492, 500-1.

Ronald S. Love State University of West Georgia3
COPYRIGHT 1999 Canadian Journal of History
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Love, Ronald S.
Publication:Canadian Journal of History
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Apr 1, 1999
Words:11696
Previous Article:Thinking About the Earth: A History of Ideas in Geology.
Next Article:Foreign Bodies: Travel, Empire and the Early Royal Society of London. Part II. The Land of Experimental Knowledge.
Topics:

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters